Green Recovery: Wendy Puts an End to Compulsive Eating Through a Plant-Strong Diet

by Gena on June 15, 2011

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Hello, lovelies! I loved your reaction to my blueberry oat bars! And I love the bars themselves, so rest assured I’ll offer you some fun spins on the original recipe. I can’t wait to try it with other fruit flavors, grains, and toppings.

Today, I’m here with a Green Recovery submission. Our past four have featured women who were prone to food restriction (or restrict and overeating cycles), and three of these women developed full-fledged anorexia nervosa. These stories hit close to home for me, and it’s urgent that they be shared, but a particular passion of mine is also to shed light on the many varieties of disordered eating that exist. These include anorexia and bulimia, but they also include binge eating, compulsive eating, and many others.

On that note, I’m happy to widen the scope of our series today with a submission from Wendy, the sassy and enthusiastic scribe behind Healthy Girl’s Kitchen. Wendy is here to share her story of recovery from compulsive eating. You’ll find that her honesty and her passion for a plant-strong diet is absolutely infectious, and I’ve included some of her recipe photos throughout to prove it. Thanks, Wendy, for sharing your story!

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Hello. My name us Wendy. I am a compulsive eater. An emotional eater. An OVER eater. YES, I have an eating disorder. It’s not as commonly accepted as anorexia and bulimia, but in my life it has been equally as vicious. A plant-based diet saved my sanity and probably my life. Here is my story.

I cannot remember a time in my life when food was not a really big, bad deal. Many of my early memories revolve around my relationship with food and my poor body image. I was always sneaking downstairs in my house to eat more than my mother would allow me to. I had an almost insatiable appetite for sugar. To this day, I don’t know why or how my mother did not confront me about my sneak eating, but I’m glad that she didn’t. I would have been mortified.

My mom knew I had some sort of disorder and limited the amount of sugar in the house, but I could get pretty creative about getting it. In junior high I borrowed money from my best friend every day and bought ice cream at lunchtime. I never paid her back, she never asked for the money, and she never called me out. She was a nice friend. I was a little bit overweight, but not much. I thought I was fat. I never felt comfortable in my own skin.

My first “diet” was Weight Watchers. I was 15 at the time. I remember standing in line to pay and the woman next to me said, “How much weight have you lost?”

“None,” I replied, “this is my first time here.” I mention this because it’s important to note that I didn’t have much extra weight, but I knew on a very deep level that I had a big problem with food. I thought Weight Watchers and losing weight was a solution to my problem. I had no idea what was in store for me.

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Wendy, before and after happily finding a plant based diet.

Dieting didn’t eliminate my food obsession: it fueled it. I would successfully diet, lose weight, feel starving and out of control, binge/sneak eat, gain all of the weight back and start all over again so many times that I lost count a long time ago. All through high school, college, grad school, getting married, and having three children, the cycle would repeat itself time and time again. The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Master Cleanse, The South Beach Diet, The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, The Flat-Abs Diet, and Weight Watchers . . . over and over and over. I hated my body and I hated myself even more for failing to maintain a healthy weight.

I wanted to feel good and look good and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do that. I do have perfectionist tendencies, and I couldn’t ignore this perceived failure in my life. Unlike some other eating disorder sufferers, I’ve always had a ton of self-confidence and a feeling of enormous power and potential in my life outside of food. (Gena’s note: I think this is actually true of a lot of ED sufferers, Wendy! Me included.) Not having my physical or emotional health drove me nuts. I wanted it all.

At 5’4″ tall, I peaked out in April of 2009 at 182.5 pounds. When an old friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding I knew I would have the motivation to begin yet another round of weight loss so that I would not be “the fat bridesmaid.”

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I showed up yet again at Weight Watchers. Only this time, a miracle occurred. A woman at the meeting mentioned a website called PEER trainer, which in turn led me to read a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman called Eat to Live. If you are not familiar with his methodology, he recommends a high volume, low calorie, plant-strong diet. I explored and read everything I could about plant-based food. Blogs, books, movies, plant-strong eating challenges-you name it, I was fascinated. I began losing weight in an enjoyable way–feeling satisfied, full and well nourished instead of hungry, angry and malnourished.

It took some time for me to transition away from eating everything with a mother or a face (including cheese and milk), and just about all processed food of any kind. I know this way of eating seems extreme and restrictive to some people, but it “cured” me from my eating disorder (as much as a person can be cured of it). I have joyously maintained a 40 pound weight loss for well over a year, which is astonishing for me.

I’m on a magic carpet ride, and I am still discovering which foods are not the best for me. For example, I recently decided that agave syrup did not belong in my diet, so I eliminated it. It’s just sugar after all, and sugar is my personal drug of choice. Once I accepted that, I was able to eliminate it.

Now, I do realize that as a compulsive over eater I am in the minority of readers here on Choosing Raw. I know that what is best for me is not best for someone suffering with anorexia or bulimia. But through adapting a no-added fat, plant based diet, I have found what is best for me. I need to feel full (not stuffed!) after I eat, so that I don’t binge later. I need to consume a high volume of vegetables and beans to give me the energy that I need to make it through my busy life. I NEED to feel good and confident about the food that I am eating and how it effects my weight and energy levels.

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Food and sugar are no longer the scary enemy that they once were. They do not control my every waking thought and I no longer worry about how my food choices are going to affect my weight. Why? Because it seems to me that eating primarily plant-based, unprocessed food lands a person, ultimately, at their healthy weight.

That does not mean that I never eat anything with meat or dairy or sugar or oil. I’m evolving, at least right now, at my own pace, toward an evermore exclusively plant-based diet. And as for the sugar and oils, I’m carefully not to get into an orthorexic frame of mind, although there was a point where I was getting close and ironically, it was my mom who pointed it out to me. It also doesn’t mean that I never overeat or compulsively eat or binge. I do. Occasionally. And I no longer beat myself up about it. I just move on and go back to eating on my healthy plan immediately. I don’t use my slip-ups as an excuse to binge again.

Am I recovered if I still spend so much time planning, cooking, and photographing food? That is a fascinating question! I began blogging in January of 2010, after I had lost all of my excess weight. Prior to that, I was not reading others’ food blogs. I had this idea that if I blogged about healthy weight loss maintenance (talk the talk) than I would have to keep up my new healthy habits (walk the walk). I was so right. Putting myself out there publicly as a “healthy food blogger” has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It has forced me to continue to learn and grow and not revert to old unhealthy habits. Regardless of my blog, I have 5 mouths to feed, so planning and cooking meals are part of my job description as wife and mother. The photography is a complete joy for me (I’m a hard core crafter and food photography is my craft du jour).

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But more important than any of that is my burning desire to help other over eaters find peace with food, because I know it is possible with a plant-based diet free of processed food. I don’t have to remind anyone of what an epidemic obesity is in America. The health of our nation, physically, financially and emotionally, are in severe jeopardy. I enjoy being a leader in the fight to overcome this disease. Just like there is a tight knit community of bloggers recovering from anorexia and bulimia, I am hoping to find or create a community of bloggers recovering from compulsive overeating.

Becoming a no-added-fat Vegan has given me back my sanity. Today, I feel comfortable in my own skin. For the most part, I like what I see in the mirror–not because it’s any kind of perfect, but because something about the nutritional quality of the food that I am eating just puts me at ease with myself. I am long down the road to recovery.


Thanks, Wendy! I’m so happy that you shared a slightly different perspective with the CR audience today.

I also love Wendy’s provocative question: is being a food blogger at odds with recovery? This is a question that I ask myself, obviously, all the time. Of course it’s hard not to wonder whether the documentation of meals and food photography do seem a lot like food fixation, or obsession, or whatever you want to call it. My ultimate feeling, though, is that being a true lover of food—being obsessed with food, if that’s how you want to describe it—isn’t at odds with my own recovery. In fact, given how fearful and squeamish I was about food for so long, my full throttle obsession feels like a triumph, a celebration, and an important tribute to the fact that I have dramatically transformed the way I think about food. For more thoughts on this, ready my post on eating with emotion and loving to eat.

What did you all think of Wendy’s story? Can you relate to her struggles and triumph?

I’ll see you back here tomorrow with a scrumptious recipe for vegan enchiladas!

xo

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{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Wendy, thank you for sharing your story!

This part is wonderful to hear “Putting myself out there publicly as a “healthy food blogger” has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It has forced me to continue to learn and grow and not revert to old unhealthy habits.”

Good! For you, food blogging is super helpful and has aided you. Great to hear (we seem to hear about the many who are triggered or regress b/c they read blogs or are bloggers but so glad this didnt happen to you)

As for you being a wife and mother with 5 mouths to feed and basically the show must go on, life happens, all that jazz…I can relate! I am a wife and mother and at times feel really disconnected from other bloggers who are not yet married or have no children and until you really walk the walk, you just can’t imagine what it all entails, but I’m not telling you anything, mom. It’s nice to hear from another woman who is also a wife and mother! :)

Thanks, Gena, for featuring Wendy’s story! And Wendy, off to check your blog out b/c I am super into photography lately too!

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Jen June 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Oh my god, you did NOT just say vegan enchiladas! My post today is on chicken taquitos that I made for my family last night, and I mentioned at the end of the post that I actually crave tempeh and tofu more than I crave meat, and that I would love to make tempeh taquitos inspired by the tempeh enchiladas from my favorite vegan restaurant! Yes, I’m aware that taquitos and enchiladas are not the same meal, but they share the Mexican origin. Now I’m really excited for your post tomorrow! What a coincidence.

As for Wendy’s story, I really enjoyed reading it. Really, really, really. I find all eating disorders fascinating (let me make clear: not in a sense of enjoyment or happiness), and it’s not as common to read about somebody struggling with compulsive eating. It reopened my eyes to the variety of eating disorders that exist. Thanks, Wendy! I love your healthy and moderate approach to eating. Very inspiring, and not far from my own views.

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Laura June 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Wendy, you have no idea how much I relate! Perhaps if own my green recovery story is posted here, you’ll see. My own battle with overweight and compulsive eating actually did take me on an anorexia and orthorexia detour, but it’s the compulsive eating, and the desire to “kill” it, that is at the root of my ed. Well, other things underlie the ed in the first place, of course, but you see my point. I LOVE your “plant-strong” label. I currently run with “plant-based.” High-volume, unprocessed, and (mostly or all) vegan are the exact keys to health and self-esteem that I’ve found as well.
As for blogging, I don’t think it is at odds with recovery AT ALL. It might indicate that a person is in recovery and retains high interest in food and eating patterns, but I fully believe that can be a tool of recovery and maintenance as well as inspiration to others. Unless, of course, the blogging or logging feels compulsive or interferes with life, or doesn’t truly bring joy. I dabbled with creating a blog and felt that it primarily caused me anxiety and guilt at this busy point in my life- it felt like I needed to strive for perfection in a triggering domain where “good” is actually a FANTASTIC place for me to be, and I’d like to keep it that way! But, I LOVE being a part of others’ blogs, and the blog community- once I found the ones with the right healthy mindset- is a huge boost to my recovery/maintenance. I will surely be trekking over to your blog from now on! Also, while restrictive types might predominate on this blog, I’m sure plenty more people will come out of the woodwork- there are tons of people who struggle with compulsive eating, and I would love love love to hear more stories!

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Laura June 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Oh, one more, thing, because I’m still really excited about your post…
“Food and sugar are no longer the scary enemy that they once were. They do not control my every waking thought and I no longer worry about how my food choices are going to affect my weight.”

YES!!!
Yes, that is the profound comment that necessitated replying on my own comment. I apologize. But really, what better summary of ANY eating disorder, and the power of a plant-strong diet?

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:13 am

Thanks Laura! I actually think your submission dovetails beautifully off of Wendy’s, so I suspect it’s the next one that’ll go up :)

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Rachel June 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Thank you so much for that story! Very, very similar to mine. It’s amazing what a joy food can finally be after a long journey through disordered eating.

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emma @ emmakgray.blogspot.com June 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Wendy I loved your post!
I have struggled with bulimia in the past and I still occasionally struggle with binges and overeating. I remember sneaking downstairs after my mom went to bed when I was younger too, I would eat lots of sweets (my favorites were oreos) and my mother never said a word. Like you, I am thankful.
I think any compulsive behavior with needs to be talked about and I am thankful you shared your story.

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Bronte June 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Im starting to struggle with bulimia it seems. I dont consistently throw up my food, and Ive only started doing this about two weeks ago. I dont want to do this but my mind just takes over my actions, and I am starting to regret it. I eat healthy: Im vegan, I dont eat processed foods, and I limit what I eat on sweets. My problem is that I have this idea in my head that certain foods shouldn’t be eaten at a certain time of day. I know thats crazy but thats what I believe. I eat healthy during the day, but when it comes to night time I begin to overeat more then I should. I’m trying to fix my problem, but I think it will take me some time. Any suggestions?

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm

A lot of people have a night eating problem. I am not bulemic so I cannot speak to that, but there is a lot of talk about night eating on a website called http://www.peertrainer.com

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind words. I am feeling very emotional after reading your responses. It feels really good to know that I am not alone.

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Cheryle June 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Wendy, I have been a compulsive eater for the past 15 years and had an eating disorder since my teens. Your story is very similar to mine, except I am 56 years old, have 6 grandsons and another on the way. The plant based diet has completely cured me of my compulsive eating. Not to say that I don’t have twinges from time-to-time for sugar but I satisfy it with a slice of cantelope or peaches. Never thought I would salivate over cantelope, but I do! Thanks for sharing your story.

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Pure2raw twins June 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

thank you so much Wendy for sharing. I can totally relate to your store….sugar my weakness too. But thank you for the reminder that is does not have to control me.

Food blogging can be tough, I have seem some get accused of being obsessed because they eat the same thing. Well for some of our diets are limited based on what we can tolerate and what not. So it is a fine line, but also feel is a place of happiness and joy, so what not share it with others??

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I totally agree-if you have found happiness and joy about food, share it with others. Maybe with all of this blogging going on more people are able to recover than in the past? There are so many people who have told me that my blog helps them, so even though I certainly focus on food a lot more than if I didn’t blog about it, the upside far outweighs the downside.

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Melanie St. Ours June 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm

This is a great story; wonderful to continue to widen the dialogue about the many ways in which disordered eating can manifest and the many different paths to healing. Thank you for sharing with us!

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evelina June 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

thanx wendy for sharing your story! im still struggling with over eating disorder…. i follow vegan diets during the week, and can do it succesfully ’cause im busy, but then the weekends come and i have lots of free time i just cant stop eating goodies (lots of sugar and flour, i crave it like crazy)… u story helps me a lot… i’ll keep trying with veganism, i’m sure its the healthiest way!! hopefully one day i’ll become a 100% healthy vegan =0)

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Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! June 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this, it makes me feel so much better knowing there are others out there going through the exact same things that I am. I can fully relate to this story, and the journey to recovery is still going. Starting my blog has already helped me feel better about my situation!

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Sarah June 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Wow- this is me and I didn’t even know it! Thank you so much for sharing your story. You have definitely given me some food for thought!!

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Liz Speck June 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Wendy – You have no idea how much I relate to your story! This is ME! I have done all those diets, and I too love sugar. I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years and have being trying to give up processed foods more and more. You are inspiring – this gives me the encouragement I need to keep trying. Thanks!!!

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Amykinz June 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Wendy,
Everything you wrote & said & are experiencing… is me. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. I, too, am a recovered/recovering compulsive overeater – saved by a whole foods diet & a healthy living blog. It’s a joyous feeling to go from food controlling you, to you controlling/finally enjoying food! Compulsive overeating is an epidemic & it’s not talked about nearly enough. I agree, we need to build a community around this!
Thanks for you vulnerability & for sharing your story.

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Lucy June 16, 2011 at 1:55 am

Wendy and Gena, thank you both so, so much for this post. I have been reading Gena’s blog for about a year and have found it so inspiring in encouraging me to take control of my problems with eating through plant-based foods.

Wendy, I am just so grateful to you for telling your ‘non-conventional’ story. I can’t honestly say what I would call my eating problems and much like you, I have often started on a damaging diet to try and curb whatever it is that’s gone wrong. At present I am a technically healthy weight but my head is so far from thinking straight about what I eat that it’s an immense relief to read about someone overcoming similar problems. Just because a struggle is not either anorexia or bulimia it does not make it any less debilitating to my life. I think it’s so important to tell you own story, as you have so bravely done and acknowledge that eating is not a black and white issue for many people.

You have given me so much hope as I am starting to eliminate dairy and eggs from an already strict vegetarian diet. Subscribing to your blog now, Wendy. Thank you both!

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thank you, Lucy!

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Zarah June 16, 2011 at 2:33 am

Very interesting and relevant read! Thank you for sharing your story, Wendy! :)

Gonna pop over to your blog now. :)

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Laura Agar Wilson (@keephealthstyle) June 16, 2011 at 2:37 am

Great post, I can really relate to this, its only since becoming mostly vegan that I have been able to feel confident that I won’t gain back the weight I have lost. I feel happier and healthier than ever knowing that I’m filling my body with health at every meal and not having to worry about falling back into old unhealthy habits :-)

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Sarah June 16, 2011 at 3:29 am

Great post! Thanks for sharing your story- I love how brave and honest you were/are.

The food blogging issue that other’s have mentioned is tricky and has got me thinking. When I quit blogging last year it was because I was dealing with too much weight loss, lots of comments from friends and family about my weight loss, and I was worried that I was relapsing into my ED days again. My head was all over the place so I needed to step back.

However, I have to say that when I quit blogging and moved away from a plant-based diet, I lost a part of myself and I lost my joy for food. And, whilst I gained the weight back so am in the healthy weight zone again, after moving away from a plant-based diet I found myself obsessing over calories and how much much I weigh. Let me be clear, when I originally adopted a vegan diet it was for health reasons and to manage my IBS. When I lost weight, it was unintentional. I wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about the number on the scale. But the commentary from others (particularly close friends and family) triggered me and so what was an honest pursuit for health and joy of food became me thinkg I was being disordered with food. So then it became a “self-fulfiling prophecy” of some sort. Does that make sense?

It was only since not eating a pre-dominantly veg*n diet and not blogging that those bad ED habits (calorie obsessing, body hating etc) returned. This may be a coincidence but since returning to blogging and eating mostly plant-based I feel much better and am enjoying food again, truly. I’ve ditched the scale and the calorie counting which has plagued me recently. I’m still trying to find my balance between health and food and blogging, so I’m staying away from labels. And I’m not attributing it all – the recent relapse and recovery – to food blogging and plant-based diet because it’s so much more complex than that. But it defo helps.

Gosh, sorry if that’s too long and completely irrelevant! I just felt the need to share. Sorry for space and words hogging!

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 5:11 am

Loved your comment.

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Sarah June 16, 2011 at 5:37 am

Thanks Wendy, you’re kind. x

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thanks, Sarah! I’ve been thinking of you and wondering how you’re faring. This comment suggests to me that you have a Green Recovery submission of your own in the making…

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Sarah June 16, 2011 at 7:30 am

You may well be right! Watch this space… Thanks, Gena :)

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Anna June 16, 2011 at 4:32 am

I am a compulsive eater as well but I’ve not yet found a balance or a way to combat it. I can follow plant strong no added fat for about 3 months and then for some reason I fall off the wagon again and the pounds come creeping back on. I am really overweight and I want to eat healthily and be healthy (not skinny, healthy) but I sabotage myself all the time and it’s incredibly frustrating. I am still at the point of trying every vegan plan about to see if it works for me and then being down because I’ve failed once again… I’m 38 years old and have been battling with food for as long as I can remember, maybe one day I’ll find that elusive way to eat that works for me…

Thanks for the interesting post, I did Eat To Live for about the standard 3 months and then got bored with it (I also need to feed 2 young boys who need more calories than just grains and vegetables can provide), maybe I need to read it again.

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 5:10 am

Is it possible that you have a case of perfectionist thinking? I had to let that go along this journey–for my head and my body. Rip Esselstyn said it best, “It’s Plant-strong not Plant-perfect.” I have “slip-ups” on a fairly regular basis (a few times a week maybe) but I let it go and move on. I know that the vast majority of my food is uber nourishing and I am thrilled with that! Trying to be perfect is a game that is impossible to win.

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Anna June 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

thanks for the reply. I don’t know if it is perfectionism, I find that a slip up can lead to a month of constantly over eating or eating really unhealthily even though I want to eat well. I just feel really frustrated with doing well (although not perfectly) for a few months and then just totally failing at eating well in any way. I need to find some way to balance it out and I just haven’t yet.

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:10 am

I really couldn’t get into EAT TO LIVE when I read it some time ago, perhaps because I hate fruit for breakfast :) But I like Dr. Fuhrman himself.

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IngaG June 16, 2011 at 4:41 am

Yes, totally can relate.
I was bulimic for years, and a compulsive/binge eater before and after the actual bulimia. I too had an obsession with sweets, I could buy an entire cake, get behind the computer, and eat all of it over the next 20 minutes. And I discovered that I need to feel fool and satisfied after a meal, both physically and emotionally nourished, to prevent binging.

Slowly moving away from processed to whole foods, replacing a food one by one, over the course of several years, is what happened for me. I do not share the vegan ethics but I am effectively on a mostly plant-based diet because it’s often easier to just buy plants than figure out how exactly animals are treated on a particular farm. As well, quinoa or beans and rice can be delicious, and are extremely budget friendly.

Ironically though, it was the Weston Price Foundation that made me interested in whole foods, traditional food preparation and experimenting, I just gravitated towards vegetarian adaptation of their suggestions and recipes. Then I discovered that raw and vegan blogs have even more fascinating plant-based ideas.

I am not completely free from emotional eating, but I don’t beat myself up when it happens and my relationship with food is at the healthiest it’s ever been.

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Christine June 16, 2011 at 5:01 am

I’ve luckily never really had an unhealthy relationship with food, yet I can relate to the addiction and satisfaction that a plant-based diet can give! The more I eat salads and unprocessed foods, the more I want them over other foods, and I love that I can feel full yet know that I’ve had a healthy, low-fat meal. There is something truly remarkable about it–I’d read so much about how raw foodists craved greens but was skeptical until I began to notice how I much I wanted even the meager ice-berg lettuce salad over the big warm comfort food it’s served with in restaurants! I’ve moved from maybe one dinner-salad/green smoothie a day to having them more often than all other foods! Instead of one bag of salad at the grocery store it’s 4 or 5 now–it’s fantastic, and so utterly delicious and satisfying.

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Sarah June 16, 2011 at 5:43 am

I utterly agree with you, Christine. If I go a day without salad I crave it like crazy the next day! Same with fruit.

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JL goes Vegan June 16, 2011 at 5:21 am

Wendy, as a reader of your blog I know parts of your story but reading it here makes it even more clear how important your blog is to you … and to your readers. I love how no nonsense you are. You know what works, what doesn’t, no excuses. Which isn’t to say you aren’t human. Which is the other thing I love about your blog. You call YOURSELF out when you notice old behaviors. And you gently nudge your readers. I find you inspiring.

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 5:35 am

aw, thanks JL!!!!!!!

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

I do too :)

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sofia June 16, 2011 at 6:01 am

wendy, thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with us. it’s good to raise awareness, as binge eating disorder is often forgotten and not grouped with the other seemingly more detrimental disorders. i’m intrigued by the point you raised – and that gena commented on – about having confidence in other areas of your life. i certainly was NOT one of those people; it was more of a “if only i could fix this one problem, then i could start working on everything is.” why are these disorders so all-consuming for some and not others? i was literally swallowed whole (pun intended) while others were able to maintain some semblance of a normal life. and about blogging? i’m not sure if it’s helpful or harmful. i know that for me it has been extremely helpful, but in the first year or so it certainly wasn’t. not sure what changed – maybe it was more “real life” stuff rather than blog stuff, so i can’t really say. interesting topic. thanks again for sharing!

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

Sofia,

It’s such a good question. People are usually surprised, horrified, or both to learn that through both the worst of my ED and both relapses I was pretty high-functioning, and if you’d asked me at the time, “are you happy” or “do you like yourself?” I’d have said yes. Naturally I see the 10498273 ways in which I must not have been quite so happy or happy with myself as I thought, but I really don’t recall my ED ever crushing my more general sense of self, even as it threatened my health profoundly. It’s something I think about a lot.

G

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Laura June 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

same here. I think I didn’t suffer from it long enough to experience enough of the severe effects on health or cognition. But that’s why eds persist- because they help us function in some ways, while damaging us in the long run. The ED class I just finished TAing for had a nice metaphor used with patients- the patient is drowning in high water, and the ED is a log. The patient won’t want to swim to shore, because the water is scary and the log is safe, but it’s not a long-term solution.

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Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 7:11 am

I can totally relate. I remember my mom confronting me a few years ago, voicing her concern that I might be orthorexic. I responded, “but mom, I’m happy. Would I be this happy if I had an eating disorder?” Looking back, my happiness was completely conditional and pretty much dependant on how “cleanly” I’d eaten that day or how little I’d consumed (I was eating completely raw, exercising a ton, and so thin I wasnt getting my period, but similarly still fully functional and successful in other areas of my life). The combination of growing up, therapy, reading blogs and others’ stories, eating “plant strong” (love that), lots of YOGA, and actually wanting to get better/over my ED, and many other factors I’m sure have helped me let the log go and find my long-term solutions. Thanks for a great post!

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Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 7:12 am

Sorry I didn’t mean to post anonymous, my name is Ellie! :)

Kaitlyn June 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

Wendy, what an inspiring story! This series really hits close to home with me. While I never suffered from a diagnosed eating disorder, I definitely suffer from disordered eating. My vegan diet has helped me to realize that food is so much more than a tool to get the body I (think) I want. Thanks, Gena, for really bringing this point to life for me.

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Cameo June 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

Very inspiring. Congratulations, Wendy! I have struggled with Compulsive Eating my entire life. Recently I cut out gluten and dairy (my two binge-food groups; read: pizza and ice cream) and honestly have not had a binge or a strong craving in months…knock on wood. I think it is interesting that the foods we should avoid are the ones we crave when binging…I can see how eating a high raw or a high plant based diet can curb cravings because you get SO MANY nutrients out of it. I think a lot of the processed foods sap us of nutrients, which in turn make us crave more food and it can turn into a vicious cycle. I have no science to back up that theory…it’s just my 2 cents.

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 8:44 am

I completely agree, based on my experience, everything I have read, and the way I feel today.

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Priscilla June 16, 2011 at 8:06 am

Wow, thank you for sharing this! I am a compulsive overeater myself. It is great hear your story and know about your blog. I have struggled with binge eating & compulsive overeating for years. I finally sought out help from Overeaters Anonymous about a year ago, and it has been a huge help to me. My binges are much fewer and farther between, but I still struggle somewhat with compulsive overeating.

I can’t say that eating a plant-based diet cured my eating disorder because I was a vegan for ethical reasons before the disease developed. But I know that if I were not already eating a plant-based diet, my disorder & health would be way worse. I have zero desire for non-vegan foods. If I were not so committed to my vegan diet for ethical reasons, I would be binging on cheese & sugary desserts all the time.

For me, taking care of myself, physically and emotionally, and making sure I get enough to eat are crucial to avoiding a binge. Thanks to all the great recipes Gena shares, I have learned a whole new way to prepare food. Case in point, my lunch today: kale salad with ginger-miso dressing!

Thanks again, Wendy. Look forward to reading your blog!!

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Elizabeth June 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

Wendy, I really liked your story; it illustrates just how powerful a plant-based diet can be in recovery from every variety of disordered eating. I’m leery of “restriction,” in general, just because my own recovery involved learning to embrace my appetite, but if I’m going to be honest, my own diet is pretty darn restricted. It just doesn’t feel like restriction because I am no longer at war with myself. I crave food that is life-generating, and I eat it in ample quantities. Like you, there is “something about the nutritional quality of the food that I am eating just puts me at ease with myself.” Do I eat food of dubious nutritional quality? Of course! I’m visiting New York City now and can’t wait to get to BabyCakes! I’m a big believer in eating for pleasure, and that includes the occasional frosted cupcake, or two.
The link between eating disorders and confidence is an interesting one. Sadly, my ED became constitutive of my identity in a not-good way. Being skinny was the source of my confidence, for almost a decade. So no surprise that when I started to flounder in grad school, I relapsed …
While my own recovery wasn’t “green,” at least not initially, it did involve, acknowledging my hunger (physical and emotional) and finding the foods that would satisfy it (usually “green” but not always), and it did involve falling in love – first with food and through food, with life itself.
I’d say my recovery remained tenuous as long as I was trying to eat like a normal person. It wasn’t long before I realized that it was our culture with the eating disorder, not me, not anymore. There’s nothing wrong with being a “picky” eater in a culture where 90% of what’s being sold as “food” barely nourishes our bodies to say nothing of our souls. I now define my own recovery not in terms of BMI (I’m still teetering on the edge of the chart) but as a transformed relationship with food.
For many women, the relationship with food is too highly charged, and primal, for them to ever succeed with a diet that doesn’t acknowledge its importance. Any diet that tries to relegate food to “points” or “calories” will fail (without hypervigilance). The key, I think, is to heal the relationship. If blogging helps that to happen, the more power to it.

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

Amen Sister! Great comment.

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heather June 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

Thank you for this post….I can totally relate to it. I am still in the figuring out stage of how to handle the bing eating although it is slowly getting better and better. I know that stress triggers me as well as restrictive eating. I realized though when reading your story that I too feel best when I eat a high volume, healthy plant based diet. I need to feel satisfied and full but I like the light feeling I have with a plant based diet. I have been following weight watchers and if I stick to that type of eating I do my best and feel my best with my weight loss journey. When I try to stick to my points but eat something smaller which is more calorie dense is when I feel deprived, crave things and over do it.

My real goal is to not follow any diet and just be able to trust myself to follow and healthy diet which will enable me to lose these last 15lbs and maintain my happy weight. The trustingnright now is the hard part but I am getting there.

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

Heather-you WILL get there with a plant-strong diet. Give your self time to let confidence build. When you see over many, many months that you weight can stabilize without weighing, measuring and counting points you will get to a new peace with food.

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Heather June 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

Thanks Wendy. I am very glad that Gena’s blog (which I absolutely love) has now led me to yours. I will be checking out your posts for some helpful tips on this process. Before reading this I really have thought I wanted to ditch the WW & points & counting – it is so frustrating & tiring sometimes to manage all that. Peace with food sounds heavenly!

Did you stop the dieting cold turkey once you decided that this lifestyle was what hyou wanted to follow? I guess it’s a trial & error process – maybe now is the time to start trusting myself and see how I do. Thank you again!

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) June 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

It absolutely was a trial and error process that involved some fluctuations (and not a pound or two) in my weight until I saw that I did not need to follow WW anymore and that the Nutritarian/Plant-strong eating style was working very well for me. I remember that near the end of my involvement with WW I was tracking food for a few days and then I would get busy and frustrated and a few weeks later I would try to do it again, resulting in more frustration with my failure at being able to count and track and measure food (meanwhile, I had already done that for about one year, but at some point, I just got pooped out!). It evolved over time to the point where my weight stabilized and I do not have to count, weigh, measure but was not a cold turkey kinda thing.

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heather June 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

That is exactly me right now…on and off again tracking…frustration….and the cycle starts again. Your story is so encouraging!

Cassandra June 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

I know too! My problem is I go plant strong for a week or two and then I have a hiccup and disaster happens. 20 lbs later… I know I just have to get back on!

Laura June 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

For me the solution to this has been to LOVE the “plant-strong” foods I am eating. I have to find foods and dishes that I crave. For me, it’s totally worth a little extra avocado or oil or salt in a dish if it’s plant-strong, because I know that will keep me on track if I’m in a place where I’m feeling tempted by more mainstream foods. Like Wendy, I also suggest bowing to the mainstream temptations now and then- but stock your house will only the best, make the food delicious, and don’t be afraid to give yourself the healthier kinds of treats to stay on track! As your tastebuds and appetite change, your cravings will too! And when you really need to overeat, don’t feel like a failure- but if you can overeat a bag of frozen berries or a pan of baked sweet potato fries, instead of whatever your initial temptation was, you’ll be making progress long-term!

Lindsay June 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

wonderful post ladies! this was a very personal and revealing story but I loved every word of it. Plant-based foods really DO make you feel stronger, more nourished and more balanced. I try so hard to make my family understand this and they are slowly realizing why I eat the way I do. Since I started following a plant based diet about 2 years ago, I have no longer had issues with yo-yo dieting and eating disorder triggers. So I realized this really is the healthy way for me to live :)

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Jen June 16, 2011 at 9:42 am

I just started the ETL diet with my boyfriend (well the first six weeks anyway) 3 weeks ago. I saw this, and was so excited, because we’re finding the same results, we’re happier, I’m not experiencing the same stomach pain i used too. In the face of everyone telling me its “too strict” its nice to hear someone else is maintaining it out there!
Awesome post! :)

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Erin @ Naturally Addicted June 16, 2011 at 9:45 am

Wow, thanks for sharing this story! It’s inspiring how women really overcome these issues. Thanks Gena for making a forum where women can discuss these common issues without being criticized!

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Marissa June 16, 2011 at 9:56 am

Wendy, I loved your story. Reading Eat to Live and following its teachings helped me to “cure” my ED as well, and it’s wonderful to hear about others who had that book help change their lives.

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Kris June 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

Thanks so much for this post, Wendy. I’ve been reading Gena’s blog for a while and have been (off & on) gravitating towards a plant-based diet. This story, however, rang so overwhelmingly true for me. I have a great life- successful career, supporting and loving boyfriend and family, and am a confident young woman. I am, however, a serious over-eater. I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight and keep it in check most of my life because I’ve always been active. Last year, however, I suffered a knee injury and had surgery, which cut back on my activity level. Fast forward one year and a weight gain of 25 lbs, I’m at the peak of my food/body hatred roller coaster. I eat fast food for an instant ‘high’ when I don’t want to deal with normal stresses in my life. Then I put on a pound or two, get more anxious, so I eat bad food again to make me feel better. Such a vicious and unhealthy cycle! This post was an inspiration for me to (re)start my healthy lifestyle journey. Thanks so much- couldn’t have come at a better time!

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Kimber June 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

Hi Kris,

I also had a knee surgery and put on some weight. I understand how frustrating that is. I’m just now realizing that my anxiety/stress is likely a trigger to the overeating and compulsive is definitely the word. This is definitely an issue I never hear discussed either. It’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one.

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Adrianna June 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thank you for this. This resembles my story so much. It’s very motivating to find I’m not the only one. Thank you Gena/Wendy.

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Andrea June 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thank you for your story!! Your story sounds a lot like mine and it really helps to hear you had some of the same food issues I had since I was a child. I also have finally found what a mostly vegan diet can do for a life time of yo-yo dieting and eating disorders. I have lost almost 30 pounds with the guidance of Amanda Beckner from Your body Code and have finally changed my life!

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Kristin June 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

Love love love love this post. I can definitely relate to your story and it’s about time we read about more over eaters rather than under eaters. I have never ever been able to starve myself but I have sabotaged myself through my diet. Much luck to you and will be adding you to my reader!

(Also, kudos to Gena for hosting this!)

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Christine (The Raw Project) June 16, 2011 at 11:21 am

Great recovery post, thanks Wendy and Gena! Good question about food blogging, I’ve always wondered it documenting food is another way of justifying it and over-obsessing about it and decided that type of food blogging wasn’t for me with my ED past. I can relate to Wendy’s story struggling with an ED and body image in the past.

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Elle June 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Wendy, thank you so much for sharing your story!
For me, it’s taken a long time to accept that my binge eating is a problem, but I’m slowly facing it and working to get it under control, fixing my relationship with food in the process.
I feel that I can really relate, especially with what you said about: “Food and sugar are no longer the scary enemy that they once were. They do not control my every waking thought and I no longer worry about how my food choices are going to affect my weight.” That’s the point that I’m aiming to reach. I want to be concerned about how my food choices fuel my body – eating to live, rather than living to eat (which is what I’ve been doing for quite a while)..
I’m off to check out your blog!
Thanks again!

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Jen June 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I followed a similar path as Wendy. I was a compulsive & emotional eater, a chubby child, slender in my late teens and early adulthood, then packed on the pounds after marriage & kids. I found PEERTrainer last fall, read it for a few months, then at Christmas made a pact with my siblings to start logging our food everyday & lose 50 lbs. PEERTrainer led me to Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. I found Wendy’s blog and others looking for good vegan recipes. What I like about Wendy’s statement of herself is she clearly identifies that she has an eating disorder. Previously, I would joke about being a food addict, but it wasn’t until I started a Nutritarian diet that I realized I REALLY WAS addicted to animal fat, sugar & salt. If I hadn’t gone cold turkey on these items (except a little salt)and pushed massive amounts of vegetables, I’d never have come to a healthier relationship with food and prefer the taste of lighter fresh foods over rich, fatty, starchy ones. I’m not fully vegan…I like a little goat cheese on my salad and on special occasions prefer baked goods made with butter and eggs, but when I eat excess animal fat & sugar, my body can quickly sense how it makes me feel, and I push vegetables, beans & fruits again to feel better. I also sense how rich these items are and for the first time ever am able to avoid or have only 3 bites. Dr. Fuhrman states we have food cravings because our bodies are deprived of nutrients. By following his high-nutrient plan, my cravings went away and it’s easier to avoid the food that was packing on the pounds. For people who have trouble staying on Eat to Live, I would highly recommend purchasing a Vitamixer to make green smoothies, delicious bean & nut dips, gazpacho/V-8 & fruit sorbet. Sometimes I make a beeline for the Vitamixer when I walk in the house to quickly flood myself with nutrients. For myself, I also try to limit starches; I enjoy sweet potato frequently but currently eat a serving of whole grains or bread 1-2x a week.

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LauraJayne June 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Thank you for this post – When I was overweight, I would rationalize my weight because I was successful in my career and school – saying that it didn’t matter how I looked because I was still successful. I thought that health = looking good – so I didn’t feel the need to lose weight if I was succesful in other areas of my life. I had to realize that I was unhealthy and unhappy – and that the weight and overconsumption negatively affected my quality of life and future quality of life before I could make those changes! I’m definitely going to check out your blog! Sounds wonderful!

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Cynthia June 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I’ve also been struggling with binge eating and restricting for over 20 years. (I’m going to be 32 next month.) On good days, I follow a low fat raw vegan diet, but in the recent past there have still been many days that I have crumbled and just stuffed myself with whatever was around. The good part about eating raw vegan has been that it has me ethically at peace with what I am eating and that I am able to feel good and eat a sufficient amount of calories. I no longer restrict to unreasonably low levels of calories, which just sets me up for bingeing because I am so hungry. I rely on exercise now instead to create a deficit and let go of the extra 30-35 lbs of binge weight. This year, on average, I have still been bingeing though for 4-5 days and only have 2-10 days of good eating in between, so I’m still on a rollercoaster. I haven’t been binge free for a whole month for as long as I can remember, at least 15 years. I just recently started doing some energy healing / qigong type work because I know I needed *something* to get me the last step of the way, and it seems to be really transformative. I haven’t binged since I started and feel much more at peace and less gripped by the compulsion when the thoughts of binge food come to my mind.

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Jen June 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

On the days that you crumble and binge, does this occur when breakfast and lunch haven’t incorporated a load of vegetables? Do you make smoothies for yourself? I bought a Vitamixer which has made all the difference in quickly & easily getting nutrient-dense nutrition. I have 3 cups of spinach-banana-seeds smoothie for breakfast, which I think is what fuels me daily to control cravings & overeating. And if I’ve skipped lunch, I head straight for blender to make a veggie-salsa-chickpeas drink. Afternoon & nighttime sweet cravings are held at bay by making a frozen fruit sorbet that stands in for ice cream but gives me 1-2 servings of fruit. My teens love this, too, which means I’m not stocking other “risky” snacks for the house. Per serving: 1 cup frozen fruit, 1-2 packets stevia, 1/4 cup milk or substitute, vanilla extract, lemon peel, spices or cocoa powder for flavoring.

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Rose June 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Oh Gena and Wendy! This post hit very close to home and I’m honored to have been made privy to it. Gena, I’ve been reading your blog since its inception and (literally!) devour your wisdom daily. I feel that most forms of disordered eating overlap in some capacity, so in a way… I think many of Gena’s readers have been there, Wendy! I most certainly have.

I’m tall and skinny by nature, but decided my sophomore year of high school that I needed to be even skinnier. Much like the two of you, I’m a confident, capable person who has/had everything else in order… and I wanted to be successful in terms of “controlling” my body, as well. So… after about a year of subsisting on half-sandwiches (low cal turkey and mustard… obviously)and as little as I could get away with under my mom’s watchful eye, my body cried out for calories… my system was so desperate and confused that it would take anything it could get, nourishment be damned! And I spent the next six years in total shame– alternately binging and “detoxing” so that my body was never happy or settled.

About two years ago, I discovered high-raw veganism… and the rest is history. Just as disrespecting my body lead to disrespecting myself, fueling my body with Mama Nature’s best goodies makes me feel not only physically awesome, but proud of how I treat myself and how far I’ve come. I still struggle sometimes, too… when my body was first adapting to a vegan lifestyle I lost quite a bit of weight without trying, and now that I’m a nut butter afficionado, I occasionally find it frustrating that my freakishly small clothes no longer fit. But I am so much closer to total self-acceptance now, and I have a “plant strong” diet and blogs like both of yours to thank for it!

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Gena June 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

What a triumphant story! Thanks Rose! I think you need to give me a GR submission!

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Rose June 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I’ll work on one, Gena! And thank you… I’m pretty pleased with myself :)

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Skye June 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Wendy! It really resonated with me. I struggle with overeating and I am still working towards a healthier diet centered on plants and whole foods. Your story, along with all the comments, is motivating me to work harder at this.

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Paige June 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm

This story has left me almost speechless. I have been bulimic for 24 years. Several weeks ago I decided I HAD to find a way to stop bingeing and purging because it was causing me so much pain in my sinuses and lymph nodes. I arrived at the decision to begin a 30 day “eat clean” diet. I only binge and purge on fast foods, fattening foods, etc. When I eat healthy, I don’t over eat or purge. I am on day 13 today and have not binged or purged once! I have been feeling so good eating a vegetarian diet of mostly vegetables and fruits (a little salmon) that I have had no desire to resort to my unhealthy eating habits. I realize it’s only day 13, but this is the longest in my 24 years that I have gone without purging and I feel so good physically, mentally and emotionally. I wondered if anyone else had ever cured themselves of bulimia by doing the same. I am absolutely certain that I will succeed as something has just “clicked” inside me and I know I am on the path to recovering. I plan to continue eating in this fashion, eliminating fish and all dairy and going more raw than I am now. Wendy’s story was especially helpful to me because no one knows that I am bulimic, so I am not able to share my success with anyone. When I tell my friends I am on day 13 of my ‘eat clean’ they tell me, “that’s great.” but what they don’t know is that I am quietly celebrating a different victory. Thank you Wendy & Gena!!! Much love!

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Paige June 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Although no one commented on my post I wanted to follow up by saying that I am now on day 18 and feel more empowered every day. I love eating a plant based, vegan diet and post pics of the creative dishes I’ve been making on Face Book daily. A lot of people have gotten curious about what I’m doing and have told me how inspired they are to try something similiar. It’s been really exciting and fun and I know it’s just the beginning!

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Laura June 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Paige- congratulations!!! This is a really exciting story… please keep us posted!

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Paige June 22, 2011 at 12:38 am

Thank you Laura! I am truly consciously choosing what I eat now, with the focus being on nutrition and health instead of how it will effect my weight or fill an emotional craving. I am now able to catch myself going back to the kitchen to get another bowl of fruit, or a second helping of veggies, and have asked myself, “Am I actually hungry? Does my body need this? Or am I bored or on auto-pilot and following a compulsion?” I have made a pact with myself that I am going to be responsible for the food I eat, so if I make the choice to eat it, I must digest it, no throwing it up. By doing this, i feel that I am respecting food for the first time in my life, and not abusing it. ;-)

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Paige July 11, 2011 at 11:03 am

Laura, just wanted to give you an update, since you were interested in my progress. I am still going strong! It’s been 37 days since I started my plant strong, no animal products, eating and I’ve never felt better! I’m so enthusiastic about my new lifestyle, that I hop out of bed early every day to go walking, and then make my morning smoothie. This has truly changed my life and I have no desire to binge and purge anymore. I’ve also started my own blog and have been helping friends who want to eat healthier. :-)

Kate January 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I just really wanted to say thank you. I am bulimic (have been for a little over a year) I was vegan for a few months (before bulimia) and it made me feel great. I really want to get back to it!
I have stopped binging/purging a few times but have always gone back to it. this summer, I went for two months without purging and felt great. I really need to stop. I honestly don’t know why I binge, i know that it is horrible for my body and it makes me feel like crap but I can never seem to stop. It it definitely worse when I am stressed out (which I usually am).

Your post and story have really inspired me. I started crying when I saw this post – just knowing that somebody else was were i am today and they managed to recover. It gives me a lot of hope. Tomorrow I am planning to start my own 30-day vegan cleanse (though I think I will include eggs from the local, ethical farm nearby). I will remember your story and use it as motivation when I need it. Thank you so much for sharing. Hopefully in a month, I will have a similar story to tell. I really can’t tell you how much this has helped me.

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Amy June 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I never thought of myself as having an eating disorder until recently. My sister has struggled in the past with bulemia and I never really understood eating disorders. Now that I think that I have issues with over eating, I am looking for all sorts of ways to get healthy and ensure that my children get positive eating habits (they are a 3 year old and 2 year old twins). I continually work on moving toward a plant strong diet with as little processed food as possible. also there are health issues with in our family that have pushed us towards a plant based diet.

Thanks again Wendy and Gena!

Amy

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Michelle June 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I struggle with compulsive eating and most of what you wrote is exactly what I’m struggling with. However, I feel like something very important is missing from what you’ve written. Your story is mostly about eating and not about your beliefs about yourself, why you developed the disorder or the process to stop yourself from bingeing.

You write that feeling full prevents you from bingeing later. Is this really the missing piece in preventing binges? For me, feeling full does little to prevent a binge because fullness has nothing to do with why I binge. Like many compulsive eaters, all kinds of emotions, beliefs, expectations and anxieties lead to bingeing.

Perhaps it’s the same for you and you just didn’t write about it? But the part I just can’t relate to is simplifying the solution by saying simply changing what you eat can “cure” an eating disorder. It goes much deeper than that.

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Gena June 18, 2011 at 7:27 am

Nice comment, Michelle. Yes, I think most bingeing (or restriction) has less to do with hunger cues than with emotions and anxieties and feelings of self doubt.

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Yes, Michelle, you are right. I didn’t go into all of the details about emotional eating, but I have worked for the past few years to overcome my emotional eating. I am far from perfect, but with the help of The Beck Diet Solution (cognitive therapy for food addicts) I have been blessed to make a lot of changes. None of that would be possible, however, if I wasn’t eating a Nutritarian diet.

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GirlonRaw June 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thank you Wendy for sharing and Gena for this series in blog posts that I am really enjoying.

Wendy, I very much relate to the accountability food blogging can give the writer.

I used to write a more travel based blog, but decided to change it up to food/life blogging to give me an audience to answer to, to keep me on the straight and narrow when it came to healthier choices, and it totally worked for me also.

I admire your ability to feed 5 mouths as a mum(mom) and also keep on track for yourself too. With a new baby and a new daily routine to get used to, I am finding this one of my biggest challenges right now.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) June 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Wendy, you’re an inspiration, thanks for sharing your story!

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Kimber June 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Gena- I am so glad you included someone like Wendy in your green recovery series. I have this same problem and am just now realizing it.
Wendy – Thank you so much for sharing. I have found it to be really embarrassing and don’t know very many people with this issue. I also have a terrible time with sugar, especially ice cream. Have you ever understood why this happens? Is it stress? I really appreciate your post. Thanks again.

Kimber

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Gena June 18, 2011 at 7:25 am

Glad it spoke to you, Kimber!

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Dr. Neal Barnard published a book called Breaking the Food Seduction. It will answer all of your questions about why sugar and ice cream effect you in this way. They are drugs no different than cocaine and heroine. And people’s brains react to different food differently depending on our own individual brain chemistry. I believe that I fall under the category of low seratonin receptors, so put me near birthday cake and I find it impossible to say “No thank you.” Why? Because sugar makes me happy. Now it also makes me nauseous and disgusted with myself. But like a drug addict, I eat it anyway. These days I eat it alot less of it because I feel so good all of the time being full of high nutrient food.

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Baking 'n' Books June 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Oh my God…”disgusted with myself”…exactly…but “I eat it anyways”…exactly…that is me.

Months and months, years and years…it’s like i can’t just stop it…there’s someone else in my head just telling me “who cares…this will make you feel better…”.

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Lisa N. June 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

speaking of this eating disorder is really great! Thank you! I’ve been patiently reading all of the green recovery stories of people not eating, thinking the whole time, “Well that’s not me and my family at all!” We don’t have a problem eating at all! Yes, we overeat and we eat emotionally, mostly out of pleasure and centering around social times. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot of information that I’ve shared with my family about MSG causing a desire to eat more, and very fatty meals (meat and whatever)causing a desire to overeat. It’s really hard to not eat cake and ice cream socially, but I’ve never wanted to say no to my kids because I didn’t want to create an obsession over food. We eat and we enjoy. Now we just have more information on what we eat affects how we eat and how we feel. We all like feeling better!

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Pam Mayne June 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Thank you from me, too, for sharing your story, Wendy, and to you for hosting it, Gena. And I’ve been so inspired by all the comments as well. I’ve been all over the place with my ED but am now solidly in the compulsive overeating camp, and seriously overweight as a consequence.

I have a question for the successful folks — is “massive amounts” of veg, as Jen puts it, critical? I keep trying to do Eat to Live, and failing, because although I really do like vegetables, I can’t do the volume he asks for, and I don’t want them all the time. If I eat a huge salad and two steamed veg for dinner, I end up bloated, uncomfortable, and yet *still hungry*, and then I binge on “solid food.” Is this something that I just need to ride out in order to heal, or can I back down somewhat on the veg amounts and ratio (to something more like half veg/half whole starches ) and still be successful in transforming my relationship with food long term? Any thoughts?

Thank you!

Pam

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

Pam, I recommend that you also read all of the books written by Dr. Neal Barnard and The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. Both Barnard’s style and Esselstyn’s have a more balanced approach as far as vegetables vs. whole grains and might be just what you need for a long time as your body and taste buds change. Later, if you feel like you want to take it to a new level, you can revisit Eat to Live.

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Pam Mayne June 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Thanks, Wendy; I really appreciate your taking the time to reply. I will check them out!

Pam

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 27, 2011 at 5:42 am

You are welcome :)

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Just Audrey June 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm

What a great post, Wendy! I admire your courage for sharing your story. I can relate in a lot of ways to what you talked about. I have a major sugar addiction and am still overcoming compulsive eating. It’s a hard journey, but seeing examples like you gives me courage to keep trying! Thanks again!

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Julie June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

I am so glad Wendy shared her story! She is definitely not alone, as this is almost parallel to my life – the chubbyness, the sugar obsession, the yo-yoing. I have also found that a plant-based diet has helped me “even out” all the ups and downs of compulsive eating. It’s an ongoing process, and it’s nice to see that others are overcoming it as well.

Thank you so much for sharing, Wendy, and for putting on your blog, Gena!

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 27, 2011 at 5:41 am

Yes, Julie, it is so important to note that it is an ONGOING process and that a plant-based diet evens things out. Because there will be “slip-ups.” You just have to learn to move on from the immediately.

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Baking 'n' Books June 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Whoa…so a fellow beautiful blogger sent me this link…she knows that I am struggling (severely) with this right now…to the point that I buy whole sugary cakes and eat them…daily…by myself…

I hate myself…am disgusted with myself…and always feel like it’s too late…I wake up the next morning and am just at a loss with what to do…

I can’t stop it – late in the evening when dinner rolls around…I know it’s emotions, I know it’s loneliness..boredom…sadness..and because it’s the only thing that I know how to do…

But it’s been happening for years….years…not just an occasional binge…

Is it ever too late?? Ever…?

Or have I done to much damage to my body and mind to ever change?

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

It is never too late, and your body and mind are suprisingly adaptable. It is a drug habit you are in, no different that smoking cigarettes or other stuff. It’s just that it’s almost even more taboo and full of shame than being a coke addict. If you want to break the cycle, there are so many resources for you to do that now from the comfort of your own home.

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melissa June 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I can relate to Wendy’s story–however I am at the beginning of my journey–still with weight to lose and still struggling–add to this my challenges of being gluten free also and a family of 5 who do not share my plant based endeavors–any suggestions??

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Lisa betesh December 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Sugar and excess fruit really change my personality.does anyone have trouble with this?

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Kellie January 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I have met quite a few people with binging ED in my raw food community and no one with other disorders, so I feel quite at home! I guess I am very lucky because where I live, there are a lot of very positive people doing raw, and they are very NON-orthorexic. Very balanced. I feel how I actually crave good things and started disliking too much sweet since I started juicing and doing raw. If you are creating a community of raw recovering overeaters, count me in!

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Maryann July 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Wendy

Thank you so much.

I, too, am a compulsive eater and recently changed to a plant based program which has been helping. Recently, I had surgery and cannot participate in my usual exercise activity only walking is permitted. Therefore, I am feeling a bit anxious at times because of the exercise restrictions. So, for some reason, tonight I overate and was feeling defeated. However divine intervention occured and I found your blog via Gena and Facebook

On a positive note I committed not to eat after 7 pm and I have not eaten after 7 tonight With my past experiences, if I gave in to temptation, my binging would sometimes Iast for days. I truly feel healthier with a plant based program and focusing loving myself and positive outcomes will help me to manifest my healthy body

Continued health to you

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Marcy September 25, 2013 at 12:02 am

Just discovered this website. The idea that there are other people who have had the same lifelong struggle with compulsive eating, bingeing on sugar and cakes and bread is so amazing. I thought I was out here on my own. I’ve tried everything, Weight Watchers and other medical weight loss programs and juice fasts. You name it. I’ve tried it. Your site is the first place I have ever found that there are women like myself who have tried to find a sensible way to live with food, instead of seeing it as an all-powerfull enemy. Thank you for posting. I will be reading and learning. You are the answer to a prayer.

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Gena September 26, 2013 at 6:19 am

I am so glad that the site and these Green Recovery stories are bringing you comfort, Marcy. All my best to you in your journey.

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Marcy September 26, 2013 at 6:39 am

Dear Gena,
Thank you so much for your kind response. I feel I’m an explorer, discovering a new world. Maybe like the Ugly Duckling, discovering her home among beautiful swans. So, I’m swimming into this new habitat, overjoyed. More when I start to understand where I am and how to be here. Thank you. Thank you.

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Gena July 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I love watching this dialog happen! So glad that CR can facilitate this community :)

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